As President George W. Bush famously said, “Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?” Although often quoted with a chuckle, the answer is a roaring no in the Houston Independent School District (HISD). And this is by design.

HISD is the largest school district in Texas and one of the biggest in the nation, but despite their pledge, “The Board of Education’s mission is to equitably educate the whole child so that every student graduates with the tools to reach their full potential,” it is not happening.

A little history: throughout the 1920s and ‘30s, the city’s all-white campuses were exclusively located in the western parts of Houston. The disfavored, deficient Black schools were restricted to southern and northeastern areas, but minority students were arguably better educated than they are now.

In 1954, the court’s decision of Brown v. Board of Education declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional even if they were of equal quality. Prior to 1960, HISD was the biggest segregated school system in the United States. William Lawson, who was a youth minister then, advised Wheatley students to shun their school. The students followed his advice so successfully that their 90% absence rate inspired a federal judge to speed up integration. The HISD officials reluctantly and lethargically crafted a plan to cooperate. Part of this deceit was declaring Mexican American students to be white and used them to “integrate” the Black schools, while keeping Angelo children on distinct campuses. When Mexican American parents disenrolled their youngsters in protest and joined the boycotts, HISD instituted the rezoning of schools. In 1970, one dozen Black courageous students were admitted to HISD schools previously reserved for whites.

This resulted in “white flight.” White families moved away from their established neighborhoods in bitter opposition to the admission of minorities into “their” schools. Bussing was so universally detested that voluntary magnet schools were instituted as an alternative.

Through all these challenges HISD has produced some remarkable citizens, none more than Phyllis Wheatley High School in the Fifth Ward, including Barbara Jordon (1952), Albert “Al” Edwards (1955), Mickey Leland (1963), Ruth Simmons (1963), and El Franco Lee (1968).

Phyllis Wheatley High School opened as a “colored” campus in 1927, replacing what had been a white elementary school. It continues to survive in a socioeconomic environment that has roots in century-old segregation. Many of the student body are classified as “economically disadvantaged.”

Fast forward to 2020, when one hundred students and alumni of Lamar High School felt compelled to write an open letter to share their experiences and painful memories of bigotry, discrimination and inequality experienced by Black students in Houston public schools. Their document alleges failure to appropriately address undisguised racism, the penalization of Blacks for behavior not resulting in punishment for white students, and maintaining racial division in classrooms, clubs, and supplementary pursuits at the school.

Lamar is often recognized as HISD’s most successfully integrated school. Established in 1936, about half of its students live in the neighborhood, a wealthy white enclave, with the remaining pupils commuting from other, poorer areas. The racial mix is approximately one third white, one third Black, and one third Hispanic.

In 2015, it became the law in Texas that the state could assume control of an entire school district if one campus was deemed to be “academically unsuccessful” for five consecutive school years. Wheatley High School reached that threshold in 2019.

According to Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Education Agency’s Commissioner Mike Morath, this failure along with accusations of misconduct by the elected school board required the agency to either close that campus or appoint a new board to oversee the 276 public schools in Houston Independent School District.

However, many Houstonians believe the TEA’s urgency to grasp control of the entire district is more about commandeering supremacy than improving public education. It is yet another recent offense of usurping the locally elected authority by white Republican-appointed state officials trying to muscle control of local power in cities with strong, mostly Democratic Black or brown leaders, while Houston schools’ students are 62% Hispanic, and 22% Black. Only 10% are white and barely 4% are Asian, and the city’s mayor is a popular Black Democrat. Mayor Sylvester Turner, whose purview does not include the city’s public schools, called the district’s coup “troubling, but it’s not unexpected” in a city who resisted until 2016 to rename Robert E. Lee High School and three other middle schools honoring Confederate loyalists.

Next week, more about the failure to raise up HISD.













Latest Articles


Search our archive of past issues Receive our Latest Updates
* indicates required

October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

Scroll to Top